ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Army researchers are hoping to unlock some of the mysteries of COVID-19 and use what they learn to develop treatments and preventative medications.
Research at the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center is trying to understand how COVID-19 attacks human lungs.
To do that, researchers are applying what's known as "lung on a chip" technology.
Essentially, the researchers are recreating human biology systems in a tiny microenvironment in a plastic container about the size of a thumb drive.
"We can observe which specific lung cells engaged the virus and allowed it to cross the cell membrane. We can then track the actions of the virus inside the infected cell both recording the virus’ mechanisms of pathogenesis and the timing of the damage it causes," explained Dan Angelini Ph.D., a biologist on the team, in an Army release.
The microenvironment allows researchers to watch exactly what the COVID-19 virus does to lung tissues in real time.
Researchers hope to learn which proteins in the lung cells are receptors for the virus and use what they learn to create therapeutics and ultimately preventative medications.